Artist: Culture Killer
Album: Culture Killer – EP
How do you define a legacy? When I think of an artist with a true legacy, I think of bands or musicians with decades under their belt—releases in the double digits, a dynasty of fans spread across as many cities and countries as there are stars. I think of this sort of all-powerful musical master of whatever genre they happen to play, imprinting their mark on the world for eons to come. I think of bands that dominate entire shelves in record stores worldwide.
At least I should say I thought that—all the way until Culture Killer redefined it for me.
With one full length and an EP prior, Culture Killer managed to capture the ears of what feels like an entire generation—kids and adults in love with heavy music around the world—all found themselves hooked on the band’s unique and incredibly diverse style of sheer brutality. Combing raw death metal with heavy hardcore and elements of beatdown and slam, Culture Killer took a dedicated attitude and a penchant for punishing heaviness and made it into a movement—one meeting its end with the release of their forthcoming self-titled EP. Five tracks of the most furious and visceral displays of depraved, violent and aggravated heavy music to hit ears in years, Culture Killer may be staring down death, but they’re making damn sure that if they go, they’re taking plenty of victims with them.
Culture Killer, even over their relatively brief discography, have proven that they are a band driven to evolve and amplify the intensity of their sound with each release. The jump from Denial to Throes of Mankind saw it, just as it exists in the jump from Throes to the duo’s self-titled and ultimate EP. The ultraviolent and bloodthirsty brainchild of guitarist Hunter Young and percussionist Dylan Blow, Culture Killer’s dynamic is a more concentrated and focused display of depravity compared to their previous style, even while it manages to feel more primal and visceral. From the raunchy onset of “Exterminate Filth Pt. II,” Blow and Young beat the listener senseless with every definition and style of heaviness you can imagine. Songs like “Inhale the Smoke” (aptly subtitled “Slamtera”) display Young’s versatility in crafting distinctly metallic and thrash-influenced examples of eviscerating aggression—just as “Godthroat” and “SKINGLUEDSHUT” are riffy but much more blunt examples of ruthlessness. Just as Young is diverse in his furiously fretted and crushingly capable fretwork, Blow’s bold and explosive drumming follows suit. “Exterminate Filth pt. II” and “Godthroat” see a more rudimentary and streamlined showcasing of his talents; with markedly less concentration on intricacy and more focus on pure, unrivaled fury. On the other hand, “SKINGLUEDSHUT” sees Blow shocking the listener with drop-of-a-dime blasts and surprising shifts between technically immaculate patterns and punishing, straightforward heaviness. This oscillation is, in many ways, Culture Killer in a nutshell: they are always heavy and constantly intense—the only thing that changes is how they go about beating the listener senseless.
Where the instrumental duties are split between Young and Blow, the vocal element is also shared. Young’s voice is the first and foremost the listener will be exposed to, a gruff and thick, coarse growl that rarely reaches to a raw mid-range yell or even lower, gut-busting grunt. When Young isn’t oppressing the listener with a lurid and beautifully filthy display of vocal excellence, Blow is. The shrill, harshly belted yells (like those heard on “SKINGLUEDSHUT” and others) see Blow adding his own flair to Culture Killer’s legacy beyond his percussive brilliance. Together, Young and Blow create a vocal interplay matched only by the tightness and terrifying nature of their musical dynamic—creating a cohesive and brutalizing amalgam of horrendous heaviness. But wait—there’s more! Young and Blow are far from content to write intense music and display vocal skills far beyond the works of their peers: as their lyrics continue the trend of social disgust and deep, dark misanthropy that defined them on Throes of Mankind. Primarily Blow’s lyricism, throughout the sheer-and-broad-spectrum loathing of “Exterminate Filth pt. II” and “Godthroat,” and even in its more targeted and purely pissed form during “SKINGLUEDSHUT,” is a magnificent complement to Culture Killer’s overall sound. With lyrics that capture all the hatred and negative energy abundant in the band’s musical styling, Culture Killer are comprehensively bitter and full of visceral Hell—but what else could you possibly want?
With fists packed full of the most dismal and dreary kinds of misanthropy and loathing one can fathom, Culture Killer take one last monstrous swing at the world at large—and in doing so, put the final nail in both the band’s casket and the final building block needed to solidify their undying legacy in the heavy music scene. Taking three releases—each nearly perfect in their own ways—and managing to add and refine to their sound with each one, Culture Killer may not have the years, sprawling discography or million+ fan base that one associates with the dynastic imagery of a legacy—but that’s just one more way Culture Killer manage to change perspectives within hardcore, death metal and aggressive music in general. Dark, misanthropic, energetic and soul-smotheringly, spine-witheringly heavy, Culture Killer’s self-titled collection of swan songs is one for heavy music history.
For Fans Of: No Zodiac, Malevolence, Pains, Mercy Blow, Death
By: Connor Welsh